You’ve probably done a few crazy things in your marketing stints online, right?
But, hey, we learn from our mistakes. Or we should.
I’m not perfect, too, so I’ve made a list of ten very common content marketing errors that I’ve noticed that are still trending at a popular pace online.
Online marketers, businesses producing content, and freelance copywriters at all stages are vulnerable to these.
Know, avoid, conquer (or something to that effect).
Keep reading and learn what to avoid so you can be 100% successful in your content marketing path.
10 of the Most Common Content Marketing Errors & Pitfalls
1. Giving Up Too Soon
Joe Pulizzi once said that content marketing doesn’t fail due to its content quality, but rather because it is inconsistent—or it just stops.
My simple advice as an avid content marketer for over five years now: never quit.
And along with that: don’t expect overnight results.
Achieving the below ranking took me–ready for it?–eight months.
That’s right: eight months after I published this long-form piece of content (a combination of an infographic + transcript in a blog post) I saw it hit the top three results in Google.
It can take a long time. But when you hit it, guess what? That wait, and that time and effort, was all worth it.
In fact, consistency is the greatest way to revitalize your content marketing program that has become stagnant.
This reminds me of the “don’t give up on your dreams” miner cartoon. Nothing puts it in more realistic terms (for me) than this simple visual. This exactly represents what happens when a content marketer turns away too soon: they just miss the diamond.
2. Ignoring Quality and Focusing on Quantity
Quality is important for many reasons. It increases your engagement, builds trust, and promotes thought leadership. But most importantly, Google thinks quality is important. Since Google is the boss when it comes to how it ranks and who it sends to your site, it gets to make that call. To make sure Google is viewing your content favorably, look for any obvious signs of trouble:
- Prevent and remove any user-generated spam that appears on your site
- Keep an eye on your site for hacking and remove such content as soon as it appears
Those are external factors. To really ensure content will achieve a high quality status, follow these easy guidelines:
- Create unique content
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Make use of internal links so users can easily navigate to other content on your site
- Make your content trustworthy and accurate
- Include helpful features like key takeaways, images or videos
3. Not Marketing Your Own Content
Hey, it’s called content “marketing” for a reason, right?
In Neil Patel’s The Advanced Content Marketing Guide, he explains that the secret to content marketing comes down to three things: coming up with quality content, ensuring search engines find it and promoting it.
If you fail to market your content, it’s never going to spread its wings and being new followers and fans, let along potential customers.
4. Your Offerings Have Become Bland
Leaving your content to sit and become outdated seriously hampers its ability to attract and audience and keep them engaged.
It also reflects poorly on your ability to related to readers and their current concerns or challenges.
Freshen up content with these tips:
- Think outside the blog – experiment with new formats, such as infographics, e-books or webinars.
- Paint a visual – use visual imagery as instant eye-catchers. But don’t stop at the odd photo or chart. Increase interest by creating visual-centric formats such as video or SlideShare.
- Create conversation – content marketing works well when your audience can interact. Ask questions, make a controversial viewpoint and give readers the chance to weigh in on the discussion.
5. A Dead End to Your Storytelling
“Content marketing” in itself can be misleading. You may think that the content itself actually does all the marketing work.
Nothing is further from the truth: there’s no way you can just expect your readers to take in your content and instantly become engaged, loyal, paying customers. You need to guide your readers towards the next step in their purchase process or engagement, and that requires a very strong, clear call to action. Otherwise, you’ll make the worst snafu among content marketing errors: not turning your content into ROI.
Readers expect to be told what to do after they have read your content.
That’s the entire concept behind marketing – you want your readers to do something based on the information they have just received.
If you are not including a call to action in your blogs and other content forms, start right now. That call to action doesn’t need to include a million-dollar deal. It can be as simple as signing up to your mailing list, linking to another resource that you offer or any other conversion point you want to support. Without that call to action, your content is just leading to a dead end.
6. Failing to Write in Drafts
As a writer, you don’t simply sit down, pour sweat, blood and tears over your keyboard and hit the post button, right? What about typos? What about poorly constructed sentences? What if you lost your train of thought somewhere along page three?
And worst of all: what if you burn yourself out in one sitting?
You need time to think of your content as draft stages, so you can edit your writing. But don’t do it right away. Finish your piece and walk away. Go back and edit later when the piece is cold. You’ll view it with a fresh sense of perspective and curiosity.
Sure, not all writers love editing. But think of it like this: editing can turn your “great” piece of work into a masterpiece. Hubspot offers some great editing tips here that will help.
7. Failing to Proofread A Final Time
So you’ve written a blog, you’ve edited it; it’s good to go, right? Wrong. Go back and proofread it that one last time.
Editing is about making those big, deep-line changes. Proofreading is about all the nitty gritty changes to spelling and grammar. Perfecting means you take time for both.
By the way, you can never proofread enough. Make it a habit to proofread three to four times before submitting your work. You’ll be glad you did.
8. Neglecting to Do Solid Enough Research
You’re an absolute master of your subject and possibly the greatest writer to ever grace our earth. Fantastic! But that doesn’t mean you get away without doing any research on your subject.
People are not impressed by personal opinions. They want data, evidence, studies and anything else that will give weight to your opinion.
I’m not going to kid you: research is hard work, especially if you do it right. It’s not only a science, but it’s also an art and combining the two is no mean feat. Research requires hard, honest work, plenty of perseverance and patient by the bucket load. We’re not all born writers and many an author has been heard of falling ill with headaches during the process of sifting through research!
There is an upside: research can be fun. Not only do you get to learn something new, once you realize that you’re offering your readers immense insight and knowledge, that simple writing project soars to a whole new level of excitement.
9. Failing to Define Pronouns
Pronouns? Not defining them? What?
Let me elaborate. These are pronouns:
That’s not all of them, there are tons in the English language. Pronouns are important, useful and helpful parts of speech.
So what’s the fuss about not defining them? Let me show you:
- Get rid of these. Get rid of what?
- That’s pretty bad. What’s bad?
- It’s going to be a problem. What’s going to be a problem?
- That’s no good at all. What’s no good?
See what I mean? You need to be clear. Define all pronouns, be it within the sentence or within the context of your writing. Undefined pronouns equal unclear writing and result in content marketing errors that are otherwise easy to fix: with lack of clarification, readers get bored, confused and bounce (click away).
10. Failing to Understand Who You Are Writing For
If you want to improve as a writer, you need to understand who your readers are. It’s really as easy as that.
Incredible writing is about connecting with your readers in the most meaningful way possible. You’re not going to be able to achieve that unless you’re able to really get into their heads.
Are you up for a challenge? Try this: before you put a single word on a page, go and do as much research as you can and gain as much understanding as is possible of your potential readers.
It’s actually a simple, and kind of fun exercise, of creating a reader persona. Once you have created that person, you can remind yourself of that person every time you sit down to write.
BONUS: Common Content Marketing Errors to Avoid
11. Not Outlining Your Content Before You Write
Outlining an article is simple, and one of my secrets to success. I always, always start a great content idea by outlining. It never fails when I create this way.
All you do here is create a structure for the article.
I start by jotting down a brief introduction and conclusion which helps me lead into the subject matter. Then I sum it up. This helps me fill in the empty spaces with meaningful and relevant content.
Generally, your outline only needs a couple of bullet points. Your goal should be to write down the main points you want to discuss. They don’t even need to be complete sentences. It’s no big deal, you’re not actually writing the article at this point, just outlining it.
The entire process shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes, but in the long run it’s going to save your hours. And it lends clarity to your article.
There you have it, in ten simple steps: common roadblocks in a content marketer’s success path. Now that you have them, know your pitfalls, avoid the common content marketing errors, and go forth and conquer the content marketing world!
Need a great writer (or two) to balance your content marketing to perfection? Express Writers can help.